Mr Thomas Lakose suffered a heart attack on 12 September and was billed $78,000 (Source: Give Asia).

Gleneagles waives hefty medical bill for security guard from staying in its ICU with no subsidised fees

The $78,000 medical bill of Mr Thomas Lukose has been waived by the hospital group which runs Gleneagles Hospital.

It was earlier reported that Mr Thomas who was working as a security guard at Gleneagles Hospital, suffered a heart attack during work on 12 September and was taken to the hospital’s emergency department immediately.

While his family wanted to transfer him to the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) because his insurance only covers him for subsidised care but there were two things that prevented them from doing so. One, Mr Lukose was in critical condition, therefore, he was put on a ventilator and needed intensive care and two, NHCS had no spare bed in its intensive care unit, so there was no possibility of an immediate transfer. Mr Thomas was later billed by the hospital for a staggering sum of $78,000

The spokesman of NHCS said that the doctors from Gleneagles Hospital and NHCS discussed Mr Lukose’s medical condition on 13 September morning and felt that Mr Lukose was too ill to undergo immediate surgery, although this could be considered later.

He said that NHCS then made arrangements to take over his care and a bed was offered to Mr Lukose on 15 September. “We had available surgical slots and would have been able to perform the surgery,” he added.

However, Dr Sriram Shankar, the cardiothoracic surgeon who treated Mr Lukose, said that Mr Lukose was critically ill and it would have been risky to transfer”, adding that with such condition, treatment needed to be expedited.

Dr Shankar then operated on him at Gleneagles Hospital on 16 September. Mr Lukose had open-heart surgery with three coronary artery bypass grafts. The doctor noted that he made an excellent, uneventful recovery.

Though Dr Shankar did not charge for his services but at the end, Mr Lukose, who is now at home, has been billed for $78,000 by the hospital. His work insurance will cover $13,500, however, the rest has to come from his medical insurance, Medisave or cash.

The crowdfunding appeal raised more than $24,000 as of Friday morning (13 October).

A commentary by The Straits Times senior health correspondent Salma Khalik was published on Wednesday, suggested to the hospital to consider waiving the remainder of Mr Lukose’s hospital bill not covered by insurance and MediShield Life.

Mr Phua Tien Beng, the acting chief executive officer for the Singapore operations division of Parkway Pantai, which Gleneagles is under, wrote a letter to the Straits Times and said that Mr Lukose received timely and expert care from Gleneagles’ doctors and staff, and made an excellent recovery.

Responding to the commentary by the ST writer, Mr Phua said, “Having reviewed the case, we have decided that the hospital should cover his outstanding medical bills. It is the right thing to do. We regret the anxiety caused.”

He then announced that Mr Lukose and his family have accepted the offer and have “very generously diverted the money raised through crowdfunding to the next person in need”.

In a comment on the Give.Asia page, which is no longer accepting donations, Mr Lukose’s brother Daniel acknowledged that Gleneagles Hospital chief executive Lee Shen Ming had informed them of the offer, and thanked donors for their generosity.

“For all the donations received, we’ll be donating to the next person in need, and we’ll be updating on this site for future donations. Once again, thank you very much for coming forward to help, and we’re truly blessed and thankful to each and everyone of you,” he said.

Many thanked Gleneagles for the move, saying that it is setting the right example of corporate social responsibility.

Kelvin Foong wrote, “Good decision Parkway Pantai. Although you have every right to continue to bill the patient, you have chosen the humane way to absorb the remaining charges.”

Robert Lim wrote, “Thomas Lukose was very lucky to be at the right time and place to suffer the heart attack. His family must thank God, Gleneagles’ medical team and management for saving and extending his life expectancy. The outcome if he were sent to a public hospital at that critical stage could have been different”

Harry Chia wrote, “Great outcome, Gleneagles done the right thing and security guard’s family made a wonderful gesture. All is well!”

Roger Cassidy Lim wrote, “Thank you for the kind gesture. Humanity is found again.”

Sangha Vandana wrote, “Thanks you and God bless you. A good example of corporate social responsibility.”

Mr Loh Wai Poon appreciate the move by Mr Lakose family who decided to divert the crowdfunding to others in need. He wrote, “Yes, this is the right move! Divert the crowdfunding to others in need is the right thing to do. Give an account of how the fund being distributed to the needy is something lacking in other hard luck news. Do the right thing.”

Mr Derrick Yuen wrote that this is the exact example of how vulnerable lives in Singapore are. He wrote, “This case is very clear of how vulnerable Singapore’s healthcare system really is; and how limited its capacity is to meet some Singaporean’s need. Without premium insurance coverage, some lower income or limited insurance coverage Singaporeans will continue to be vulnerable at times of need.”

Some stated that this is the power of media and wonder if the story would end up this way if only it was not being blown up.

Chee Horng Kai wrote, “Wondering if this news never appeared in any mainstream media will the result still the same? So, it is a sincere move or pressure from?”